Avnet Technology Solutions has expanded on its data centre business again, adding support for another joint venture producing data centre stacks. The solutions distributor has announced that it will now carry The Virtual Computing Environment (VCE)’s Vblock line of products in both Canada and the U.S.
VCE is the formal joint venture amongst Cisco, EMC and VMware, offering a stack of servers, storage, networking and infrastructure software for virtualized data centre consolidation.
The announcement is just part of a further rampup of Avnet’s data centre business. In recent months, it has expanded its relationship with data centre networking vendor Brocade, and has announced integration efforts around Cisco/VMware/NetApp joint venture FlexPod.
The move towards stacks – whether they are pre-ordained combinations of goods from a select group of vendors, or via the OpenStack specification championed by a number of industry players including Brocade, Citrix Systems and Rackspace – is happening because of a fundamental shift in the way customers want to build their data centres, according to Darren Adams, vice president and general manager of the Cisco Solutions Unit at Avnet.
“The data centre on the whole is in transition,” Adams said. “We’ve really done things the same way for 20 or 30 years, and the underlying technology has become more complex as the needs of the end user for simplicity has increased.”
And it’s a move that Adams said, “goes right to the heart of solutions distribution.” In other words, it’s right in Avnet’s wheelhouse.
“You’re always looking for opportunities to package things in a more simplistic way, a more value-added way,” he said. “We’ve been talking about this kind of concept for five years now. This is a product manifestation of the solutions distribution mantra.”
To start with, “phase one” of the relationship with VCE will focus on supply chain efficiency – getting the product into distribution, getting partners ready for it and getting it shipped out as orders come in. Here, Adams said Avnet figures it can help VARs get things done more quickly and efficiently than it would be possible for partners to do themselves, dealing with the three organizations that comprise VCE. Because Avnet has existing partnerships with all three players in the alliance, Adams suggested Avnet was in a good position to “minimize the potential issues with reporting and rebates that can come with these kinds of relationships.”
But it’s “phase two” of the partnership where things get more interesting for Avnet. Once the details are taken care of and the logistics are taken care of, Adams said the distributor will turn its attention to “really driving the full range of Avnet solutions distribution capabilities,” including integrating VCE products into its various SolutionsPath programs, building out complementary integration and services and starting to add new capabilities to stacks.
“Think about the ability to build out SharePoint stacks, messaging or e-mail stacks, ERP or CRM stacks,” he said. “Vblock really gives the distributor a lot of opportunity to add services elements that complement the services of our partners rather than competing with them.”
That second phase isn’t too far off, and Adams hinted it “might come more quickly than we expect,” particularly when it comes to building out Vblock-based stacks for verticals like healthcare.
VCE also announced Ingram Micro as a U.S. distributor for Vblocks. An Ingram Micro spokesperson said that while the company working with VCE in the U.S. today, the intention is to expand that arrangement to a North America-wide deal. So stay tuned for more distribution news for VCE here in Canada.